Breaking a sweat over trivia

By Mike Jiggens, Special to Delhi News-Record

Last week’s Trivia Challenge Night at the Belgian Club proved to be another overwhelming success, but, like past years, it came with a price: a few more grey hairs and some stressful moments.

As the event’s coordinator and moderator, I typically begin sweating things out as the final few weeks beforehand begin to count down. An insufficient number of volunteers have stepped forward, the team registration forms are slow to come in, the questions are maybe too difficult and require some tweaking…

But with only a handful of days remaining until the event itself, the necessary volunteers have come forward, the registration forms are coming in fast and furious, and the questions have been tailored accordingly. Suddenly, I feel much more relaxed. But then comes the big night, and I’m sweating things out all over again.

In spite of countless hours of research over the months to come up with an array of questions that will challenge the competitors — with almost all of them backed up by three or four sources — I somehow know that one or two of them will be challenged by an astute individual. Of the nine years Trivia Challenge Night has been presented by the Delhi District Chamber of Commerce, only three or four times have gone by without a challenge. Could I get off scot free this year?

No such luck. When I see a competitor making a beeline toward me with a spring in his step, I know full well what’s on his mind. There were three such incidents this year. The first was the result of a typographical error on my part, but, thankfully it wasn’t too controversial, nor did it figure into the standings. I got away with that one. The second challenge involved the title of a popular book which had been renamed by a U.S. publishing company, making it sufficiently different enough from its original title. Because there were a number of teams which answered with the U.S. version over the more popular original title (that which figured into the title of the subsequent movie), I felt compelled to award those teams with a correct answer. The third challenge had to do with a geographical question that was perhaps awkwardly posed but which I had my source material close at hand to back me up.

The level of controversy didn’t reach such heights that chairs were thrown, nor was I hanged in effigy. In the end, I believe everyone had fun, and the event raised a healthy amount of money for the chamber.

As the coordinator of Trivia Challenge Night, I’ve taken some liberty to put my individual stamp on the event with what I call my “Hitchcock moment.” Whereas Alfred Hitchcock liked to make a cameo appearance in the movies he directed, I’ve included a certain type of question since the beginning that bears my mark. To my knowledge, no one has yet caught on, and it shall remain a mystery until such time.

This event wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our local merchants and businesses who donate items we randomly give away as door prizes. Even though the same four or five teams contend for the championship, everyone stands an equal chance to win a door prize, and this gives everybody some incentive to want to return year after year. We certainly appreciate that.

Thanks again everyone for a job well done.

Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the Trivia Challenge Night, and there’s probably something a little different that can be done to make it extra special.

Mike Jiggens is a Delhi resident. His column appears regularly in the Delhi News-Record

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